Tag Archives: books

A Difficult Day

There were 21 parcels to pack this morning according to eBay, but in reality there were only 15 because six of the orders had come in on Saturday afternoon and we’d already packed them.

Fifteen is still enough.

When I arrived, via a blood test and McDonald’s, there was a telephone van outside the shop but he drove off as I unlocked. I went in, set everything going, and settled down to do the questions. There were five questions, one of which didn’t merit an answer. I wasn’t able to answer the other four so that was soon done.

Then I listed the items that needed packing, reached for the first one and started to pack. I pressed the button to find the address, and the internet died.

When the boss arrived ten minutes later I was busy switching off, restarting and prodding the reset button with a paperclip. And muttering.

He revealed that there was a telephone engineer outside again. On enquiring about our service, we were told he couldn’t possibly be to blame as he didn’t know which wire was ours.

Neither of us found this terribly convincing as any idiot with a tool box is capable of causing disruption, regardless of knowledge.

We struggled through the next hour using the boss’s phone and an unsecured BT account we found whilst searching.. It was slow and tedious.

Then, as if by magic, the internet returned. We looked out of the door and found that the telephone engineer had gone.

That’s a coincidence isn’t it?

Despite this we managed to get all the parcels packed and despatched. We also managed to serve a rush of customers, who started coming in as soon as the internet flickered back to life. It was almost as if they knew we had things to catch up on.

At least I didn’t have time to be bored.

In the afternoon I got rid of four bags of books, coughed a lot at the dust and got told off by Julia.

It’s been a difficult day.

The picture is a Great Tit in the Mencap Garden. There were several about with nesting material in their beaks when I was down on Friday. As usual, I couldn’t get a decent shot so this one, with no nesting material, will have to do. I’m going to try again tomorrow.

The Scone Chronicles XIII

And yet again – no scones.

The venue was the bookshop at Brierlow Bar and though Julia looked carefully, she could see no scones.

She did, however, buy two slices of glistening home-made cake. It looked sumptuous. And delicious. And once again I had to relearn that tough life lesson that looks can be deceptive.

As you may have noticed, I’m not the cheeriest or most modern of people and I am suspicious of change. I’m still not fully convinced that the bookshop needed a cafe, or that a crowd of people and dogs is of benefit to a bookshop with narrow passageways. I’m almost certain that anyone who parks a pram in a gangway, so that fat men with walking sticks nearly fall over getting past, should be prosecuted by social services and their children put into a gloomy gothic orphanage.

In a way it’s a shame I didn’t fall as the combination of damp floor and blocked gangway is a dream for an ambulance chasing lawyer.

Much as I despise the current compensation culture it would be fun to sue and make a few cogent comments to the court about people running cafes in a space that should be filled with books.

I’m not sure whether I would then give the money to Julia for a new polytunnel or burn it on You Tube just to prove a point. (The point being that the money wasn’t important, not that I am stupid).

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Good in Parts

Anyway, back to the cake. It was apricot and some sort of nut. Julia was in “Bear of Very Little Brain” mode and forgot the details on the way from counter to table. You’d have thought she’d have been brighter after an hour and a quarter of top flight conversation with me in the car, but apparantly not.

It tasted a bit like walnut, but there was definitely a large identifiable piece of cashew in there too.

I said: “Cashew!”

Julia said: “Bless you.”

After you’ve been married 30 years this is what passes for humour.

It was confusing cake because some of it tasted of ginger too. The top, where the glaze had soaked in, was nice and moist, but the lower two thirds was dry and quickly reverted to crumbs. Fortunately we had cake forks to deal with this problem.

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Appearances can be deceptive

To sum up, and to put my personal bias to one side, the tea was good, as it always is (made with proper leaves and a strainer), the ambience is getting better as they sort things out, the cake could have been better, but even that wasn’t too bad, and the book stock seems to have improved.

I’m actually quite impressed with what they have done at Brierlow Bar, despite my resistance to the 21st Century.

 

Wasted Wednesday

Had a lie in this morning before dragging myself from bed, fighting with my trousers (second leg only, the first goes well most mornings). and eating breakfast.

Then I lost control of my day as Julia took over, sorting, decluttering, throwing away.

It’s not easy. We’ve just about filled the first skip and haven’t made much impression on the clutter mountain. I also had six bags of clothes in the back of the car, four bags of books and a bag of recycling.

However, when we left the house, the first job of the day was to buy replacement ear rings for Julia, who lost one yesterday. The books went to Age Concern, just along the road from the jeweller.

Then we went to a clean Salvation Army clothing bank. The local one is surrounded by rubbish and broken glass and we’ve stopped using it. After that we went to a supermarket car park with the paper recycling and did some shopping. Pasta bake again tonight.

After that it was Flu Vaccine for two and then home to tidy up.

We ran into some friends we hadn’t seen for a while when we were in the surgery – a sign of getting old I suppose. They are our age, but are grandparents now and have many more health conditions than we do. It sets things in perspective when you realise how ill some people are. When I’ve spoken to a man who takes 20 pills a day my five don’t seem too bad.

Julia is out at a meeting, as I write. She never stops.

I’m going to make tea in a minute.

It doesn’t seem much of a day. No visits, no scones, no bookshops. Pretty pointless really.

The featured picture is a fallen leaf – very haiku. It’s a reminder that I didn’t get my nature walk today.

 

 

Sundays and Self-Improvement

I’m currently reading yet another self-improvement book. I can’t recommend it as I’m currently wondering whether to carry on reading it, and one of the few things that I have learned from it is that extremely successful people say “no” more often than people who are merely ordinarily successful.

So I’m close to saying “no”, I won’t waste more of my life on this book. It’s strident in tone, doesn’t really explain the concept of being extreme and isn’t giving much in the way of insight.

Fortunately, being a Kindle book, it was cheap, it hasn’t killed a tree and nobody else will have to suffer as I can’t pass it on.

It’s even worse than the last one. I decided I would benefit from a book on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. So far, I haven’t. I kept falling asleep when I read it. This probably isn’t the fault of the book as I have a habit of buying psychology books despite knowing that they have a soporific effect on me. I’m going to persist with this one as I think it has something for me.

I can finish most books, including the one about eating frogs. It isn’t really about eating frogs, but it does offer an extended, and overdone, metaphor. It was irritating but useful.

For some reason the writers of self-improvement books really have it in for frogs, as do Victorian scientists.

A couple of weeks ago, I listened to a radio programme on self-improvement and research suggested that by the end of a self-improvement book you feel worse about yourself for failing to be the person the book implies you should be.

The strident book mentioned in the opening paragraph is a bit like that, and tells you that you should write all your failures in a journal as this helps you get over them. I’m currently failing to make the change from self-employment to employment, and did wonder, momentarily, whether to write it all down. I’m not sure, but if I do you will be the first to know.

The picture shows a cream tea that came off second best when it went head to head with me on Wednesday. It wasn’t the greatest cream tea, but it does have a link to self-improvement and failure in that one of my long-standing self-improvement targets is to lose weight.

That cackling sound you hear is 2,000 calories laughing ironically.

And that concludes my thoughts for Sunday morning.

Another quick post

Sorry about the lack of application but I’ve had another action-packed day.

First off, a lie in, followed by a late breakfast of sausage, bacon, beans and potato cakes. It was an excellent breakfast cooked by my dear, kind wife.

I feel I have to call her that because (a) she is dear to me (b) she is very kind and (c) she is still grumbling that I forced her out of bed to make me breakfast. It was 14 hours ago, can she not forget?

I’m arranging breakfast tomorrow. McDonald’s, eaten in the car on the way to work. We can pretend we’re high-powered executives.

Next, we went to Men in Sheds to have hot cross buns with the old codgers. They are looking forward to Spring. Julia has been hatching plots and extracting help and equipment for the MENCAP garden. We heard the tractor running and watched the plough go up and down on the newly repaired hydraulics.

I didn’t take any pictures because I was feeling miserable and in pain. It was, I suspect, a combination of too much walking the night before, and the thought of returning to the farm.

Whatever it was, a couple of hours later I was feeling much perkier and navigating my way round a bookshop. I have a new Janet Evanovich whodunit to read and a book about Great War tanks. I’m being very careful about book buying these days, as I’m still giving bags of them to charity, and I want to make sure I’m giving more away than I buy.

Finally, we met up for a family meal as my uncle and two of my cousins were down in Peterborough visiting my Dad. It was a convivial party, ending with the male faction taking on the pudding menu as the female contingent looked on and thought virtuous thoughts.

Uncle Tom tried the Gin and Tonic trifle and the rest of us stuck to apple crumbles. The apple crumble was excellent. The trifle, we were told, picked up towards the bottom half. That would be the half with the gin-soaked sponge…

The Decluttering Diaries – January Results

At the beginning of the year I set myself a target of decluttering by stealth – throwing out an item of accumulated detritus each day (by dumping, giving away, recycling or any other means) and getting rid of a book a day. Little by little I hoped to make a noticeable difference without too much stress.

So, the January results are in, and how have I done?

Books

Target: 31 books given away.  Actual: Er…0

I haven’t done too well on the giving away of books. I think I’ll say that I’m confident I can move this along in the next month and bring it back on target.

Clutter

Target: 31 items removed from the house. Actual: 6

I had a good ferret round through a load of old paperwork and threw out the envelopes and other bits I didn’t need to keep.  It felt good to take charge of things, but the feeling soon faded.

I also sorted some bits of useless junk, which went in the bin.

It’s a start, though even I have to admit that it isn’t much of a start. February is going to be an interesting month.

The book picture is a random book picture because I mentioned books in the post. I’ve decided I need some pictures around the blog to brighten it up.

 

The Year so Far

It hasn’t been a bad start to the year. It could certainly have been better in terms of energy and computer use, as I have already noted, but it could also have been worse. It might, for instance, have featured snow and freezing temperatures. Instead, it’s been almost shirt sleeve weather at around 9 degrees Centigrade. I say “almost”, as there’s been quite a brisk wind today, which necessitated a jacket.

Yesterday I had my first day in my new job, though “day” is pushing it. I actually did three hours cataloguing a collection of 50 pence pieces and sorting stamps. It’s not exactly the glamour end of the antiques trade. It’s a sort of gentle induction as I’m not really required until next month.

Today I had my first day off. I have Wednesdays off as it matches up with Julia. I’m going to be having Sundays and Wednesdays off. She has Mondays and Wednesdays off. Apart from next month – I’m having to work Wednesdays too. It can be quite complicated synchronising three part-time jobs.

We took a trip to Lincolnshire today. It wasn’t very exciting, just a trip to Springfields, but with the days being short and us not being in a hurry to start, it was far enough. The choice of shops seems to be going downhill, and the attitude of some of the staff isn’t helping things.

The Power Station in the picture is gas-fired and seems to be owned by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and China Huaneng Group. Call me old-fashioned, but I liked it in the old days when we generated our own power.

I selected quite a few books in The Works, but I put half of them back. Experience suggests that if I buy more than two or three books I won’t read them before I buy more. I was quite proud of myself at the time, but I’m now thinking that I would have enjoyed reading them. Such is life.

I’ve actually set myself a target of giving at least 365 books away this year, so there’s no point buying another couple of hundred, even if they are only £1.50 each.

Talking of computer problems – the new settings (or lack of settings) is also interfering with photo downloads.

Humph!